More than two decades was washed away in a tide of substance abuse.
Jason Morris was trapped by addiction for 23 years. He lived in abandoned, drug-infested houses, and was surrounded by violence. He was arrested multiple times.
He didn’t know how to escape.
“I experienced all of those things that come with the addiction life. But a little bit over three years ago, I had an encounter with God, and it changed my life,” he said.
With the help of his faith, and a commitment to fitness, Morris has broken addiction’s hold on his life. He uses his experience to help others overcome substance abuse, in particular volunteering with Greenwood-bases 148 Ministries. He will be sharing his story during An Evening of Hope, the annual fundraiser for 148 Ministries.
148 Ministries offers a path to get and stay sober, using fitness and group support to reshape lives, Morris said.
“I have so much respect for what they do, because they go to places that a lot of people wouldn’t want to go to. They go to shelters and places where people are in active addiction and prostitution and homelessness. A lot of times those places are combed over, but I believe those are the places where God needs to be shown the most,” he said.
Since opening in 2019, 148 Ministries has been working with people such as Young to change their lives. David and Amber Storvick founded the ministry in an effort to use physical fitness and faith to improve people’s lives. The organization outreaches to residential centers for people struggling with addiction, abuse and other issues such as Teen Challenge, the Hope Center in Indianapolis, which helps sex-trafficked victims, and Volunteers of America.
Most recently, they have taken their program to Grit Into Grace, an Indy organization that helps women who are at risk of or are trapped in commercial sexual exploitation.
Both 148 Ministries and its physical fitness branch, 148 Wellness, operate inside a Greenwood meeting center. The facility brings together physical, behavioral and spiritual wellness in its approach to addiction, abuse and other mental health issues.
Clients, as well as community members looking for a new type of exercise experience, can take advantage of a fully equipped gym and exercise center 24 hours a day. They can sign up for services, such as semi-private training, group fitness classes and rehabilitation exercise.
Those who need it can receive faith-based counseling for behavioral health issues such as addiction, as well as join small Bible study groups.
After Morris entered recovery, he found himself gaining weight at the exact time he was aiming to be more healthy.
“All of those years in addiction, food was something that wasn’t very plentiful. You kind of put food and your own health on the back-burner when drugs are driving the train. When I had an opportunity to get ‘healthy,’ I started eating a lot, and food became a new unhealthy habit,” he said.
About a year into his sobriety, Morris was struggling one morning to put on his shoes. That’s when he knew he needed to change, and found a solution in 148 Ministries.
“My now-fiancé told me at the time about a gym that served a greater purpose. That sparked my interest, because my recovery to that point had been more faith-based than anything. I wanted to see what it was all about, and started going to the gym,” he said.
Since that time, Morris has been a regular at the 148 Ministries fitness facility, and he meets weekly with Storvick for counseling. He also helps with other programs of the ministry. He shares his testimony with homeless veterans who come to the Volunteers of America program in downtown Indianapolis.
“It’s such a blessing. It’s an honor to give back because I’ve been in their shoes before,” he said.
The programs are supported by donations from throughout the community, and people can sponsor men and women who are on their recovery journey. An Evening of Hope is the main fundraiser for those efforts. They pay for food during outreach events, fitness equipment and Bibles to distribute, Storvick said.
“There are expenses that come along with all of those things, so this helps with that,” he said.
This year’s event, which will be Sept. 19 at Vino Villa, features food, drinks and live music from Touch of Grass. Vino Villa’s outdoor patio makes for a fantastic outdoor venue, where people can socially distance, Storvick said. Masks will be provided.
“It’s a unique opportunity to hear about what we do, and some of the programs that we’re doing and the communities we serve,” he said.
Storvick and Stefanie Jeffers, founder of Grit Into Grace, plan to share their stories and their work. Jeffers was a single mom working at a strip club for three years, eventually turning to prostitution to make money. But through the support of those who loved her, she left the clubs in 2004.
As she healed herself — physically, spiritually and emotionally — she felt a desire to reach out to others as well. Jeffers founded Grit Into Grace to do just that.
Additionally, Morris wants to share his story, to spotlight the work 148 Ministries does and how it might help others facing addiction.
“They invested in me when they didn’t even know me. They were willing to put time into me through their ministry, so it’s an honor to be able to give back to them, and serve, and be part of their program,” he said.
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“An Evening of Hope”
What: A fundraising event benefiting 148 Ministries, a nonprofit organization that strives to support and empower men and women in their ongoing fight with addiction.
When: 5-7 p.m. Sept. 19
Where: Vino Villa, 200 N. Madison Ave., Greenwood
What will be featured: Dinner, music by A Touch of Grass, and presentations by 148 Ministries officials and those who have been impacted by the ministry
How to get tickets: 148ministries.com/about-us/events/